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Henrik Ibsen and Hedda Gabler.

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We’ve spent the last few class days focusing on Henrik Ibsen and Hedda Gabler. In the play, we see a woman who, faced with little other options, marries a man she does not love and is desperately unhappy in her boring, middle-class life. She has little interest in her husband and is seemingly disgusted by the idea of having children with him. Then there is Thea Elvsted, who has marital problems of her own. Keeping this in mind, we framed Hedda Gabler as a play about women’s issues. How so? What “women’s issues” specifically does Hedda struggle with? Is she oppressed by the men around her or is she dominant? Is she seen for what she is, or is she just an object, sexual or otherwise? Does she behave how a woman “should” behave, according to her time period? Does she fulfill the duties of a loving wife? Is she the kind of woman who could forget herself and devote her life to husband and children, or does she seem too selfish? Why or why not? Why is this important at all? What were the social standards of the time that made these issues so important?
What is Hedda’s main motivation in the play? What does she seem to want more than anything else and why? Does this fit into the model of the 1800s/1900s lady? Why or why not? What social factors keep her trapped in marriage to Tesman, and is there a way for her to overcome them? How does she “overcome” it all I the end? Is Hedda just another victim of an unfair system? Use specific examples and quotes from the text to support your answers, and think of everything we discussed in class – look at your notes.
Close by examining Hedda alongside our new section – Modernism. Although the play shows Realism, does Hedda display any Modernist ideas or behaviors? Do these “old-fashioned” rituals like marriage and motherhood make her feel anything? Does the play portray them in a positive light? Does she resent what her gender forces her to be? Does she question “the way things are” like Modernists?

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